Sometimes in life, you just have to leap. You have to take that big deep breath, JUMP, and see how things turn out. You may end up kicking yourself and wondering what the $*!% you were thinking, or maybe things just worked out because you were willing to take the plunge. I have seen and experienced both sides of the spectrum for myself. The results can be amazing.
Taking that leap can sometimes be the BEST thing you ever do for yourself. However, I believe that the most permanent and astounding changes take place over time.
If you are frustrated with the way your life is going in regards to your nutrition or fitness and you are ready to make a change, I would like to offer you a few tips. These are things that I have experienced working with my clients and also personally in my journey to feel the best I can possibly feel every day.
BIG changes can mean a BIG chance of Failure.
I hate that word: Failure. It sounds so negative and depressing. I like to consider myself a positive person and I try and set up everyone I work with for success. If you want to change your diet or exercise habits for the long term, Tip 1: start with something small. If the change(s) are small, you are many times more likely to stick to it over the long haul. Here is an example for you:
Instead of putting yourself on some strict meal plan if you had previously been eating whatever you wanted, why not focus on one positive change to your daily eating habits? This can be as simple as taking a daily multivitamin, drinking more water, cutting out soda, or getting more vegetables into your diet. If you focus on one positive change a week, you’ll likely find that you are able to stick with these changes. You may find that it takes you slightly longer to reach your goals, but this should not be a concern because you are on the path to a PERMANENT change. These positive adjustments you are making should become habits in your daily life. Once something becomes a habit, it is much easier to stick to. Enjoy the journey!
Give yourself a BREAK every now and then.
Take a breath. Be KIND to yourself. Tip 2: Take a small break on occasion. This is SO important for long term success and goes hand in hand with taking small steps. If you have set a goal for yourself and have begun making small changes in order to reach that goal, keep in mind that nobody is perfect all of the time. I don’t mean that this is a free ride to “cheat”, go off of the wagon, give up completely, etc. and then tell yourself “Oh it’s okay, i’ll get better or fix it tomorrow/next week/next month/after this date”, etc. BUT it is extremely hard to be compliant to a certain nutritional plan, fitness program, etc. without the occasional break. Depending on what your goals are, there is usually a time where you need to be more strict, or possibly push yourself past your normal comfort zone in order to make progress or reach your goals. However, just as important as pushing yourself, there is also definitely a time when you need to take a small break and grant yourself a little grace. Being too strict with yourself can cause you to become your own worst enemy. If you are too critical of yourself this can often lead to unhappiness with progress (or lack thereof), increased self-doubt, and/or negative body image. This will likely start you down the wrong path that can reverse any progress you have made and take you further from your goals. So…how do we keep this from happening?
TAKE A FREAKING BREAK!
Now, this is a rather broad blanket statement and can get interpreted in many different ways. If you are feeling overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, or bored with your current circumstances or progress, a little break is likely just what you need. This will help you to do a mini reset and get you back on the path to reaching your goals.
An example of this: You have been making consistent progress on your goal to lose some body fat through eating better quality foods and getting more consistent exercise. You have gotten pretty strict with your diet which has lead to a significant weight loss in the last couple of weeks but you have been feeling bored with your “diet” and you are having cravings for things that are typically “off limits”. Rather than continue pushing through the boredom and cravings, it’s often a good idea to allow yourself to indulge on occasion. This allows you to live life a bit, take a break, enjoy a treat (whether that be a good piece of chocolate cake, ice cream or whatever it is you really want), so that you can continue to make progress and reach your goals.
The danger of NOT taking a break every now and then: BURN OUT, BINGING, or total abandonment of your goals and path to a new lifestyle. As a coach, the most difficult thing for me to see is someone who makes great progress but is unable to reach their goals because they don’t give themselves a break and are unable to sustain the strict parameters that are either set for them or that they set for themselves. PLEASE don’t make this mistake. EVERY SINGLE PERSON NEEDS A BREAK!
Goals and Your Progress
It is very important to take a step back and look at where you are. Tip 3: Commit to revisit your goals. When you reassess your goals, it is important to look at:
Where you are
Where you’ve come from
Where you are going
WHY? (this is the most important) Why are you doing what you are doing?
If you can’t answer the question as to why you are on this journey or have set these goals for yourself, or maybe you have reached your goal, or possibly you have stalled completely with no idea how to fix things or where to go to keep moving in the right direction, you likely need to revisit your goals. There is nothing wrong with changing your goal, or redirecting the path to reach your goal if what you are doing is not working. If you have given an honest attempt and are no longer happy, then why continue doing something that doesn’t serve you?
An example of this: I absolutely do NOT mean that you should give up on your goal of eating healthier if you (for example) don’t lose 5lbs in your first week of eating chicken, broccoli, and egg whites. Healthy and sustainable weight loss is NOT an overnight phenomenon. If you have excess body fat to lose, we all know that the weight did not come on over night- and guess what? It’s not going to come off overnight either. (Note: I do not advocate chicken breast, broccoli, and egg whites to lose body fat! All of these things have their place, but you can eat FUN, interesting, and DELICIOUS foods and lost body fat!)
Maybe you set a goal to train for a 10k race. Your goal wasn’t to win the race, you just wanted to be able to run the entire thing. This goal has lead you to make positive changes to your diet and lifestyle but you have realized that you hate running. You start to dread every training session and try to come up with excuses for yourself as to why you “don’t have time” to train. This is a perfect example of when it’s a good time to reassess your goals. Why not pick a different goal that better aligns with something you enjoy and can help you keep you moving in the right direction in regarding to your nutrition and overall health? Maybe you have wanted to try weight lifting? Maybe a friend of yours takes spinning classes and you think it sounds like fun. The point here is to reassess your goals and pick new goals on a regular basis so you know WHY you are doing what you are doing and you can hopefully find something you enjoy.
This is LIFE. You can’t wake up one morning, decide to change everything, and expect these things to be sustainable. In order to make long term, positive changes, you will be the most successful if you are able to:
Take a small break
Revisit and reassess goals
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Why not make the best of it and enjoy the entire journey instead of trying to always race to the finish line?